The British and Irish Lions have picked four Scotland internationals to start Saturday’s historic home international against Japan in Edinburgh.
Wing Duhan Van Der Merwe, props Rory Sutherland and Zander Fagerson and flanker Hamish Watson will make their Lions debuts in a side led by tour captain Alun Wyn Jones.
The Murrayfield showdown that is being staged the day before the squad departs for South Africa is only the third Lions fixture on home soil and first against Japan.
Eight players will be making their Lions debuts, including an all-new back row of Tadhg Beirne, Watson and Jack Conan, but there is an experienced half-back combination of Conor Murray and Dan Biggar.
Warren Gatland has chosen a powerful centre combination of Bundee Aki and Robbie Henshaw in a starting XV absent of English representation.
There are four England players on the bench, however, where Owen Farrell and Jamie George provide fly-half and hooker cover respectively despite only arriving into the Lions’ training camp in Jersey on Monday.
A crowd of 16,500 will attend the clash in Edinburgh that serves as the curtain raiser to the eight-game tour of South Africa.
“We’re anticipating a tough game against Japan – a side that like to play at a high-tempo and shift the ball,” Gatland said.
“We saw throughout the World Cup they have attacking threats across the park and a solid defence and set-piece.
“I’m pleased with the progress we’ve made during our training camp in Jersey so far, but we’ve got a long way to go.
“You can see that the squad are starting to get to grips with our game strategies but as always with a Lions tour, this takes time to bed in.
“We’re in a good place though and I can tell there’s a lot more to come from this group.
“Everyone in the squad will get a start before the start of the Test series, so each member of the squad can put their hand up for Test selection.
“We are absolutely delighted to be playing in front of 16,000 supporters in Edinburgh. I’m sure the crowd will give the players an enormous lift before we depart for South Africa on Sunday.”
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